This week I’d like to discuss my fav Summer Top Ten, Foods, that is! I believe in the “Power of Food” and I think we all want to be thinner, more fit, and healthier. One concrete step we can take is to eat foods that offer us the most overall benefit to accomplish our goals (notice, we’re talking about what we can add to our diet, not take away!). So, this week’s tip is a list of “My Top Summer Ten” favorite foods, which are healthy, contribute to disease prevention, aid our weight management efforts, and are delicious especially if we prepare with some creativity using my salad recipes of course! So, when I say my top ten, I am referring to the foods that “I” recommend eating regularly especially during the summer (with a few not-as healthy foods eaten in-between). I hope you’ll choose to make them your top too while we still have plenty of summer left!
Here goes just a quick look at my top summer foods
Yogurt: As close to a #1 food as it gets, my motto is ” A Yogurt a Day”. A light food loaded with nutrients such as high quality bone building calcium, high quality protein, vital B vitamins with healthy immune boosting bacteria known as probiotics (the kind that line our gastrointestinal tract). A great food, snack or snack topping; it’s portable and easy to find. Now studies indicate that those of us who have diets high in low fat dairy products, have an easier time staying trim! I love my summer smoothies for a quick breakfast on the run. Just add fresh blueberries, vanilla honey non fat Greek yogurt (voskos is my fav), 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup skim milk, chopped ice and blend.
Salmon: Higher in fat than our other fishes, but with the Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to our skin, brain, heart and arteries to name a few. What more can we ask for in a tasty fatty food?
Lobster Most of know that shellfish is low in total fat, lower in calories than meat, but that it is also high in dietary cholesterol. Well, lobster, king of the crustaceans has just about the lowest amount of cholesterol of all the shellfish. Lobster has about 50 mg of cholesterol per 3 ounce serving, and at about 100 calories, we’ve got a high protein low fat source to add to our salads. Of course, this doesn’t include drawn butter! Sorry… ever feel so light on your feet after a porterhouse?
Legumes: I Label these beans as a “Powerhouse Food” in one of my tips. Legumes are a powerful energy food with vitamins, minerals, iron, B vitamins, and fiber along with an almost equal proportion of quality protein included in the list of meat alternatives. Legumes also contain a high proportion of soluble and insoluble fiber, disease fighting phytochemicals and when we add them to our salads, they give our plant based eating quality protein and carbs that stick to our ribs leaving us fuller longer. I add a variety of legumes to my daily salads, which fuel my work outs as well.
Tomato: The tomato’s claim to fame is its high content of Lycopene, a disease fighting phytochemical known especially to be helpful in the fight against prostate cancer. And since the tomato is so popular, versatile, widely available, tasty raw or cooked, I rate it a “Superstar Food”. Feeding your prostate? Drink tomato juice (a great natural appetite suppressant when arriving at a restaurant) and eat lot’s of tomato sauce (High blood pressure? Watch the sodium though).
Avocado One of my favorite fats, the avocado is a healthy fat made up of monounsaturated fatty acids. Good for our heart, and for our body as a whole, it can satisfy our brain’s fat satiety center, lessening cravings and creating a feeling of fullness. Great news is that when we add 1/4 of a small Haas avocado, we’re taking in less calories than a tablespoon of salad dressing. Slice it up and add it to a summer salad with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, and we have great taste, and good health!
Spinach: While spinach has made the top ten list, it’s not for its iron content which is not fully absorbed into our body (sorry Popeye). However, when it comes to “Feeding our Eyes”, spinach contains all the right phytochemicals. In fact, the retina in our eyes has the highest concentration of phytochemical pigments that need replenishing especially as we age especially during the summer’s sunny days. I just love spinach salads, so check out my recipe in my book, of course. Spinach also contains loads of B vitamins so it’s healthy for our heart, our nerves and vital for new cell growth (hear about folate recently for prevention of neurological disease in newborns?).
Asparagus: A new addition to my list based upon some new research, asparagus just may help relieve a hangover (good for summer parties?). A study reported in the Journal of Food Science, reported that the amino acids (main antioxidant made up of amino’s is glutathione) and minerals in asparagus may ease hangovers and protect liver cells from the toxins in alcohol, which are metabolized by the liver! I love my asparagus grilled with a drizzle of olive oil added to my daily salads. And yes, I know all about the odors when we visit the restroom, but rest assure, it’s the very sulfur compounds being excreted that are part of the phytochemicals, that make asparagus so healthy!
Watermelon Quenches our thirst, refreshing, and packs a good punch of the antioxidant Lycopene, and in fact it contains a higher bioavailable source than raw uncooked tomatoes. The great news is that its bad rap that it is all sugar is definitely misleading. High in water content with 90% water, and at 50 calories for a full cup of diced watermelon, we’ve got a great fresh healthy fruit. Eat up before summer ends.
Cottage Cheese: Okay, this is a year round fav, but I couldn’t resist. For those of us who can get past the “diet category” of cottage cheese, it makes a great substitute for many cheeses. I love cheese and for me, low-fat cottage cheese can substitute for goat cheese in a salad, or ricotta in a pasta dish, American cheese in an egg omelet, and I yes, I love the old standby of fruit and cottage cheese too, especially refreshing on a hot day. Let’s not forget that I make my low fat egg salad recipe with it. Cottage cheese is high in protein, calcium and when we choose the low fat kind ( I love Friendship 1% because it’s creamy), we’ve got a great source of a dairy food. Can we give cottage cheese a chance?
So there it is, just some of the foods that make “My Top Summer” list to eat more often, which might be easier to do than what too many of us focus on, not eating all those “bad” tasty foods. Also, follow me every Sunday on twitter for a new tool from my program with a link below.
Here’s to our Health!
June M Lay M.S.
Coming post labor day, look for my “Anti-Aging Blog”!
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